Outback 4WD Travel In Australia 

By (WAM)  Western Australia Multimedia

The Gulf Run Story


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Contributed By:  Shane Gerrish

Trip By: 

Shane Gail Aaron & Stacey GERRISH GQ diesel wagon

Allan & Dawn GERRISH GQ diesel wagon

After a couple of years of careful planning and months of checking weather and track reports of the CANNING STOCK ROUTE , we're going to the GULF instead !!

About half of the Canning is closed due to flooding so we have had to change plans; to make matters worse, with a week to go, Stacey has broken her arm on a trampoline and we wont know whether she needs to have an operation until the day before we are due to leave.


Stacey's arm only needs a plaster cast so we're off like a bucket of prawns in the sun and after lunch and a tyre pressure check at Dalby, we make our first camp at a roadside stop 72km west of miles. Plenty of firewood and rubbish around and as its Allan's [dad] birthday and official retirement day I decided to set up the dunny tent as a few drinks are about to be polished off.

It's great to be away, sitting around the campfire looking up at the stars which seem so much brighter than they do near the city. A large scorpion and centipede in our woodpile remind us to keep a look out from now on.

Monday we checked out the Stockmans Hall of Fame where we found 2 convicts and one sailor with the GERRISH name on the first fleet register! [wonder which one could be our relative]

That night camp was made at Cornish creek just outside Muttaburra but no luck with the yabbie trap.

After a look at the Muttuburra replica we headed to Winton for fuel where the butcher asked us to drop a package off at the blue heeler pub at Kynuna then we had a beer at the Walkabout Creek Pub at Mckinley before camping at Cloncurry

5-7-00 This morning we had a look through the John Flynn memorial then took a drive out to the airport where the first QANTAS flight landed. After that bit of tourism we headed bush to Fountain Springs, then on to the Maltese cross crystal deposit where after an hours searching, we all had at least one each. Then going via Rigby falls we made camp at Warrigal water hole near Mt isa.

Thursday afternoon saw us at Cammoweal Caves but no one was game enough to try abseiling into the caves so we headed to the dry Thornton river, where with an early camp, we had plenty of time to cook up a big roast lamb dinner...Pure Luxury!!!

On Friday we got to Lawn Hill, where, as expected,  there was no sites available. After lunch and a walk up the island stack we headed to Adels Grove where we got the last 2 sites. The next morning we packed up as all sites were booked out for the next 3 weeks, so it was back to Lawn Hill for the day to canoe, walk and swim the gorges and waterfalls. It truly is a beautiful piece of Australia! It was with reluctance that we headed to the Gregory River across from the Gregory pub, where we set up camp for the next 2 nights as Sunday 9-7-00 was Stacey's birthday. We baked a cake in the camp oven and with a stick for a candle, it was a real bush birthday.

On Monday we went through Doomadgee and Hells gate to make camp on the western side of the Calvert River and unexpectedly found a spring beside camp which saved us a 150m walk down to the water. It was here , after checking under the car, I found a 50mm crack in the diff housing which had happened on the corrugations after Hells Gate. bugger!

At Booroloola we got the diff welded up then tackled the roughest road so far,  towards Roper River,  but my first puncture appeared after 4km.  Only 340km to go.  bugger!!

Camp that night was about 20km before Nathan River and in the morning we found a fresh 1.5m snake skin beside the tent! Of coarse the diff housing was cracked again,  bugger!!!

It was a rough road to our camp at Roper Bar where I found 2 cracks in the rear diff and 1 in the front diff,  bugger!!!!

The next day it was an easy run on tar to Mataranka thermal pool and we enjoyed a 34C swim so much we stayed in the caravan park opposite and spent the rest of the day in the pool.

On Friday we visited Bitter Springs, a very scenic little spot, then Katherine Gorge where we did a bit of walking to get some photo's from the cliff tops, but very hot even in the middle of winter. [ maybe my lack of fitness had something to do with it! ]   I found it way to commercialized for my likeing !

Next we headed to Edith River and camped the night where Stacey scared the " ****"  out of me by throwing a rock in the deep dark pool I was getting a bucket of water out of!!!,  problem was I lost half the water on my mad scramble up the bank and had to go back to get more.

Saturday we explored Edith Falls which was well worth the walk but I'm beginning to wonder why I bought a 4wd as everywhere we go you have to walk!

We then headed for kakadu  [ $16.25 ea inc gst ]  and drove up to Gumlon Falls for a look at the very high falls, then on to Gimbat past some mine ruins [ no access ] , then camped at Kambogle.

On Sunday we took the 4wd only track to Barramundi Gorge and found we were the only ones there apart from the 14 troopy's belonging to various tour company's.  Somehow the photo's of a beautiful picturesque waterfall with 150 people crowded into it, didn't seem to be worth taking.

Next, we headed to Cooinda to restock before taking the badly corrugated road towards Jim Jim Falls where a shovel handle sized stick went through one sidewall and out the other sidewall, leaving a nice strong stick  [ which I'm now using to join snatch straps ]   inside the tyre carcass.  bugger!!!!!

As I was now out of spares,  we had to fix the last puncture in the midday sun .  Should have done it early one morning!

Soon we actually put the little lever in as the last 10-15Km was 4wd territory at last.  Camp for the next 2 nights was at Jim Jim Creek which was large, open and shady.

Monday we forded Jim Jim Creek  [1 meter]  and drove to Twin Falls,  but as the water was freezing and we didn't have a boat, we gave this one a miss and headed back to camp,  but as we forded Jim Jim Creek again, an esky floated in front of us and I had to slow to an idle so the esky wouldn't go under the car.

We saved the esky but water seeped in. We left the esky on the bank and went back to camp and when I walked back to fetch some water it was back in the water with a rock on it. Naturally the first car that crossed washed it out to the middle and it floated off downstream.

After lunch we went for a look at Jim Jim Falls which had water flowing. It looks really huge from the bottom and from what we heard we were lucky to see it flowing as the track is normally too deep when the falls are flowing. We spent the rest of the day swimming at the sandy beach below the falls.

On Tuesday we drove to Jabiru to restock with food and got a tank of bad fuel .  bugger!!!!!!

The injector pump leaked badly and made a hell of a mess under the car, but at least it wont rust!

The visitors centre was our next stop and we all enjoyed the video, even the kids! [TV withdrawal probably contributed to their enjoyment] Afterwards, we headed off to Malabanijbanjdu where we camped by the water with the crock's and the mossies, which were huge. [there's a story going round which says a particularly big mossie landed at the airport and they put 100 liters of avgas in it before they realized!  [but I reckon they'd only get 20 liters in before it got cranky!!]

One of the other campers saw the croc, but even though we spent half the night looking, we didn't glimpse it again , although every time a wild pig rustled in the reeds, we all went running down to the bank for another look!!

The next morning we visited Nourlangie Rocks and found it quite interesting even if the paintwork looks too new to be true! You can appreciate why the locals liked it so much when your standing under the huge protective overhang!

Next on the list was "Window on the wetland " on the way to Darwin, the kids loved the interactive games and the video was also good. Then it was off to Darwin to camp for a couple of days while I had the diff welded again and flushed out the water and refilled with new oil. [he even sold me a 80% 33x12.5 mud terrain for $20.00 ]

Autokare did an excellent job, the best anyone has done so far, but a very small crack appeared again on the rough roads south of Boulia.

On Friday I woke up raring to head bush again and found I had a flat. bugger!!!!!!!

Needless to say I did the only sensible thing, pumped it up and headed bush, but first we looked over the museum which was way better than I expected, so after they dragged me away from sweetheart [ a 5.1 m croc ] and checked my tire [ still the same pressure ]  we drove to Litchfield National Park and visited Wangie Falls, Tolmie Falls, Florence Falls, Table top swamp, Buley rockholes and the Lost City.

It was here we found the road closed so we had to backtrack to the main road, head back up the main road to the turn off, then down the track to Tjaynera falls where we had to set up camp in the day car park as it was dark and all the campsites were taken due to the extra time it took to do the backtracking.  [thanks for warning us the road was closed...National Parks ]

Saturday we went back to Blythe homestead [ where the Lost City track comes out ] . It must have been made for Gerrish's as the verandah is only 5' 6 " high. [in metric...that's ...low ]  Then we headed to Surprise creek falls, truly a wonder,  with two big bowls carved out of the rock with one feeding the other with small waterfalls between. The big surprise was seeing something so good without a tar road in sight!

After dragging ourselves away we decided to do some serious miles towards home but,  Mataranka's thermal pool captured us on the way past,  so we had to stay!

The next day we filled up [ at $1.16 per liter ]  at Dunmarra then headed across the flat and boring Barkly stock route.  About half way across we got another puncture. bugger!!!!!!!!  then, not long after we came across the grave of Jack Brady who died in 1926. We fixed up the gravesite and continued on to the end then camped at Cresswell Creek surrounded by shiny layered rocks, very interesting.

On Monday we traveled the equally boring Ranken stock route where my uhf aerial broke off due to vibration, bugger!!!!!!!!!  We then headed to Mt isa for a replacement but missed the shop by 10 min so camped the night a few k's out of town.

After buying 2 new aerials we headed for Boulia,  then Bedourie and after traveling all that way over very rough roads, I got a puncture in the servo driveway.  bugger!!!!!!!!!!

We had the two punctures fixed [ the flat from Darwin was still ok ]  then camped on a large waterhole south of town in the Simpson desert.

Next morning with the roads looking even rougher, I let the tires down to 30 psi before heading towards Windorah but dad still had his tires up and got another puncture. I should have let them down earlier as it stopped me getting any more!

Camp that night was at Quilpie caravan park where the sign says to shower as long as you like as the artesian bore supply's free hot water, so we did!

Thursday saw us make a beeline for home as Stacey has to get the plaster off tomorrow, so after 9250km [ on 33" tyres ] over 4 weeks it was good to not put a tent up.

Hopefully the Canning will be passable next year as these easy tracks are too hard on the cars!!

Shane Gerrish.


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